Well, this was unexpected. I had not actually planned to run Nuclear Rush last weekend, but as luck would have it, my acute jealousy coincided with a place becoming available with the Mudstacle team. Extended, kind, ticket-bearing hand bitten off, and I was in the car with the dog in tow with the promise of a borrowed tent and sleeping bag. Prepared, I was not. I’d only got Haribo and 9 bars to survive on. This, I must point out, is not my usual camping style
We hung out at the Mudstacle BBQ on course on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon, watching the shivering runners drop into the lake from the para-plunge and the death slide. It. Looked. AMAZING, and I am forever grateful to Pete at Mudstacle for letting me tag along. Also forever grateful to the burger chefs, because they were bang on. So good, in fact, that the dog didn’t get a look in.
As evening descended, we shuffled over to the campsite to get the tents set up, then descended upon the event village to sample the delights of the several food vans, prat around on any equipment we could get our hands on and have an impromptu ceilidh. Retreating to the campsite, we proceeded to Bear Grylls the SHIT out of the place and start a fire and generally be raucous until sleep beckoned. With the dog curled up in the sleeve of my dryrobe, I settled in to what would probably be an uncomfortable night. Turns out, my back totally appreciated being laid out on the floor of the field and I felt fantastic the next morning, and feeling was heightened by the provision of bacon and tea from other team members. I provided sweets, comic relief and a cute puppy, I think.
Ambling into the village, scoffing a banana and a 9 bar, I held literally zero hope for my metabolism and ability to stay at a decent glucose level, particularly after getting it so spectacularly wrong at Spartan. With this in mind, I drank a whole bottle of Lucozade, which I can tell you (for free) tastes like tepid vomit after it’s baked in a hot car overnight.
After a remarkably efficient and friendly bag drop, we bounced as a team down to the start line to be greeted once again by Muddy Highlander. As super serious sporting athletes, we warmed up without a hint of idiocy, and took our places in the starting blocks. And then mud changed my life.
The first few kilometres were a blur of us acting like total prats and ensuring that everyone else was amused, irritated or scared of us. The vast majority of the team were much fitter than me, and I may as well have been running through treacle for how much they all outpaced me on a normal day, but true to team spirit, I was not left behind. The team was clearly running for kicks and not places, and it makes for an entirely different race experience. Flitting back and forth like excited puppies, we rolled in grass, helped each other up, through and over obstacles, and cajoled other participants into really getting their heads wet in the full-submersion barrels. I’d like to think we were inspirational and encouraging, but we were probably more like a bunch of yellow clad upstarts on an unconventional stag do.
The course itself was phenomenal, and I say that with every sincere bit of my body (just not my hips, because they lie). This is the first course I have barrelled around and not even thought for one second that this sport might not be for me. In fact, the overriding theme for my brain that day was, “this is fantastic.” Of course, this feeling has a lot to do with the company that I was in, but the obstacles were ingenious, challenging, fun, varied and well put together. In fact, the only gripe I had is that by the time we got into the Wild Forest section, we were too caked in mud to complete obstacles that I ordinarily manage there (Hang Tough, Monkey Bars). This would probably be disheartening if I were seriously competing, but seriousness was not on my radar on Sunday. Marshalls shouted support, and donated jelly babies to the much deserving charity that was my mouth. The course was well laid out, signposted and everyone around me looked as though they were having a fantastic time.
Much like I didn’t realise that there were different types of running until about a month ago, I also didn’t realise how many types of MUD that one could encounter in one person’s land. There was sticky mud, clay mud, watery mud, gritty mud and the most impossibly slimy mud I have ever encountered in my entire life. I felt like one of those marine biologists that discovered a new breed of sea slug or something. I was completely flabbergasted at how well the terrain was used – this clearly is a course that has evolved thanks to a great deal of expertise and, dare I say it, passion for the sport of OCR. This will have made a serious dent in someone’s time and money, and it shows.
I’m not going to sit and list the obstacles, because there were too many to recall, and each had their merits and I don’t want to make the ones I miss out or forget feel bad, but suffice to say, if you do ANYTHING, do a Nuclear race. It was amazing.
After finishing the run as a team, and being photographed and medalled like the incredible athletes we are, we did the only natural thing – bathed and showered in an hilarious, communal way before grabbing a cup of tea, free tee shirt and collapsing in our dry robes in the event village, reminiscing about the excellence that was Nuclear Rush.
- Inov8 merino baselayer
- Nike Pro Combat compression
- Mudstacle tech tee and wrag
- Under Armour heatgear tights
- Nike Dri fit anti-blister socks
- Man Up sports bra
- Kooga rugby fingerless gloves
- Salomon Fellraisers
The kit was bang on. I didn’t, much to my surprise, overheat and I kept warm in the very shady areas of the forest. I saw a lot of people just in tee shirts, but it would have to be like a million degrees for me to brave this. My UA tights started to slip because they were just so slimy from mud, and the shoes needed tightening twice along the course, but no casualties. The gloves were rendered totally useless by the clay mud.
Cup of tea (crucial), tech tee shirt, medal, free bag drop, parking and photographs.
The MOST fun I have ever had on an obstacle course.